Sandra's Solutions

Sandra Betzina
Sandra's Solutions

Sewing expert Sandra Betzina has spent many years teaching and sewing with a passion. In this regular column, Sandra shares her tips for hassle-free sewing.

Sewing Solutions
from Sandra Betzina

Have you ever constructed a garment only to end up with less-than-desirable results? Follow Sandra's expert tips and advice on seam construction, buttonholes, pattern intricacies and more. With her advice, you'll be strutting your new wardrobe in style!

A Better Buttonhole
Size 70/10 sharp machine needles stitch the best buttonholes because of their ultra-sharp points.

Thread Options
Don't use polyester thread when sewing lightweight silk. Puckers in the sewn seam can be pressed out, but will return because polyester has memory. Silk or 100% cotton thread gives the most desirable results.

Extra Give
If garments end up being too tight even when using the size that coordinates with your measurements, cut wider side seams. When cutting out the pattern pieces, add an additional 1" beyond the cutting line at the side seams and underarm sleeve seam. Don't cut wide seams anywhere else. Before stitching the side seams, machine-baste them with a contrasting-color thread and a 1_" seam allowance. When fitting, there's up to an additional 4" of seam allowance to play with.

Save Those Scissors
Before you toss out a pair of scissors, try wiping the lint from between the blades. If the scissors still don't cut easily, consider having them professionally sharpened.

Cutting Knits
Since all knits vary in amount of stretch, cut wide seam allowances on the side and underarm sleeve seams. If the knit doesn't have as much stretch as you need, let out the seams.

Connect the Dots
Failure to transfer dots from the pattern to the fabric usually causes big problems later. A quick way to mark the dots without transferring them is by cutting an inward notch (or "in notch") into the seam allowance parallel to the dot on the pattern. The notch is easy to spot, and the dot marking is almost always _" in from the fabric cut edge.

Take Your Time
What's your hurry? If you love to sew, you'll probably start another project as soon as you finish the current one. Slow down and enjoy the process.

Faux Flat-Felled Seams
Never sew a flat-fell seam on stretch fabric. Doing so causes ripples within the stitch rows. Instead, sew a faux flat-fell seam by serging one edge of the seam allowance and trimming down the other edge. Instead of wrapping the raw edge of the cut seam allowance, simply cover it with the serged edge and secure with a row of topstitching.

Wonder Tape
Wonder Tape, a double-sided narrow adhesive tape is the next best notion to fusible stay tape for garment sewers. Eliminate seam shifting on velvets or when matching plaids by placing a strip of Wonder Tape 1/4" from the seam allowance cut edge. While the tape holds the seam together without pins during construction, it's easily removed after stitching since the seam isn't sewn through the tape. Or try the wash-away variety (shown). Z

Sandra Betzina designs patterns for Vogue under the Today's Fit label; writes a subscriber-only online sewing column for the Vogue Pattern magazine; is the author of More Fabric Savvy, Fast Fit, Power Sewing Step By Step and Sandra Betzina Sews for the Home; has produced 9 instructional DVDs; and conducts week-long sewing retreats in San Francisco. For more information, visit, or call (415) 359-0440.

Visit to view andorder Sandra's patterns.
Buy More Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzinafor $24.95 at



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